How to Sharpen Images

Sharpened Photo

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons. By alltagskunst

How to Sharpen Photos: An Introduction (Easy)
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1. Sharpening should be done at the end of the editing process.
2. Create a flattened version of the image either by flattening or merging all the layers. The Unsharp Mask works only on the current layer.
3. Use the Unsharp Mask (Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask).
4. Note: There are other sharpening tools available which do an even better job of sharpening than the Unsharp Mask. Use the Unsharp Mask method primarily for small images (i.e. 500 px).

Sharpen Images with the High Pass Filter in Photoshop (Recommended Method)
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Step 1: Duplicate the background layer.
Step 2: Change the blend mode of the duplicate layer to “overlay.”
Step 3: Apply the “high pass” filter to the duplicate layer.
Step 4: Change the blend mode to “soft light” or “hard light” if needed to adjust sharpening.
Step 5: Reduce the sharpening amount by lowering the layer opacity.

How to Sharpen an Image in Photoshop (Intermediate)
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1. Duplicate the background layer and set the blend mode to Overlay.
2. Choose Filter > Other > High Pass. Increase the pixel radius until you achieve the correct amount of sharpening.
3. Click on the Foreground color swatch in the Tools palette to open the Color Picker. Enter 0 in the Hue and Saturation fields and 50% in the Brightness field to choose a midtone grey. Select OK.
4. Paint the High Pass layer to remove any sharpening that is not required, e.g. skin tones, skies etc. This technique is especially useful for limiting the visual appearance of noise or film grain.

Additional Tutorials

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